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GPS Essentials Dashboard Layout

posted Feb 6, 2011, 3:07 AM by Michael Schollmeyer   [ updated Feb 6, 2011, 4:03 AM ]
GPS Essentials had a very simple layout algorithm in the past: All widgets are in a list and positioned first left-to-right, then top-to-bottom, as if writing text in western languages. You could change the order of the widgets by dragging them to a different position. The widget would be removed then and inserted into the list at the appropriate position. 

The pros:
  • The algorithm is easy to implement.
  • The same ordered list could be used in both landscape and portrait layout.
The cons:
  • The layout is not very intuitive for users (well, you might have got used to it, for new users it looked like the widgets are flipping randomly.
  • Landscape and portrait mode have different numbers of slots for widgets, in landscape mode widgets disappear.
The biggest tradeoff for this layout algorithm, however, is its inability to properly handle widgets of different sizes. A lot of users asked for this, and I personally support the idea to resize the widgets from 1x1 up to the full canvas size. This opens new perspectives, a future version of GPS Essentials might have a single dashboard with all views like satellites, compass and map being a resizable widget.

The current algorithm (as of 1.4.8) is a first step into this direction. When you add new widgets onto the dashboard, they will occupy the first free slot available. The new thing is that you can now drag and drop widgets on the dashboard and they will keep the position where you dropped them when you move other widgets. The old "floating" layout still applies to all widgets you never dragged, so the new behavior is "a bit" backward compatible.

The biggest downside is that there is a different layout now in landscape and portrait mode. I understand that this is an issue and it will be removed as soon as possible. I am sorry for the pain this causes now, but you'll be happy once you see the new layout in action. Imagine your next device as a brand new Honeycomb tablet and you have the dashboard and a map side-by-side. 

Sounds great? Let's make it happen! Oh, somehow reminds me of this article.